Thursday, May 05, 2011

Roger Goodell is just a puppet on a string




Paul Tagliabue will never win any popularity contests in Baltimore. If anything, he’s probably just a notch above Bob Irsay, Peter Angelos and Hines Ward as the most vilified sports figures in The Land of Pleasant Living.

That said Baltimoreans should be missing Tagliabue right about now.

Why?

His replacement looks like nothing more than a patsy.

If you can think back to the days of Tagliabue objectively and without malice, outside of his obvious bias against Baltimore, you would have to say that he did a pretty decent job fueling the game’s ascent to the pinnacle of sports while maintaining labor peace.

Never did you feel that the NFLPA would ever flip ownership on its head like its counterpart in MLB. Tagliabue’s relationship with Union Chief Gene Upshaw was solid – even friendly. It was so friendly that many questioned Upshaw’s competency because from the outside looking in it appeared that the late Upshaw kowtowed to Tagliabue.

Even the NFL owners, Tagliabue’s 32 bosses, seemed to kowtow a bit to the man who thinks Baltimore needs more museums.

My how things have changed!

On one hand you have a newcomer in NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith who has something to prove. He can’t allow ownership to roll over him – you know, the ones who want about a half billion dollar refund. So he has to take off the gloves, absorb some body blows and fight the good fight for his constituents who are watching closely.

On the other hand there is Goodell.

Now when he first hit the scene, Roger entered swinging a big stick while delivering heavy handed fines for player offenses. The penalties, relatively speaking were on par with jail time for parking tickets when compared to Tagliabue’s slaps on the wrist.

So given the new “sheriff’s” bravado you would have thought that Goodell would have been an influential force during the NFL labor wars. Instead he’s been nothing more than a puppet on the owners’ strings.

Here we have a league laced with billionaires and millionaires that continues to thrive despite a very bad economy. Salaries across the continent are flat. Millions have lost their jobs. Yet fans continue to pay the league’s rising prices.

If you build it, we will come.

But what if they tear it down instead?

Greed in the NFL is tearing at the fabric of the great game we’ve come to know and love. Each side is hell bent on “winning” while the fans, those who make the 1,700 players millionaires and the 32 owners billionaires are the losers.

Why does this have to be a zero sum game? Why can’t both sides win?

The players seem ready to litigate while they work.

The owners seem to want to crush the union while bleeding the players.

This is where Paul Tagliabue would have stood up and restored sanity. Instead Goodell tucks his tail, hides from the fan boos on draft day behind an orchestrated and insincere salute to the tornado victims in the south – a salute that was nothing more than a red herring.

Go fish!

I was once a fan Roger, but now unfortunately you have reduced yourself to a more polished version of Bud Selig.

And somewhere, while the owners puppet you around, De Smith is smiling.

Maybe even laughing!

It’s time to man up!

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Just a hunch, but I'd bet the house that Rozelle or Tags would have awarded a 2012 Bears' pick to the ravens!

Jerry B said...

I don't have a "dog in this hunt", believing that both sides are motivated by greed at the expense of the fans. And, make no mistake about it, when this labor dispute is settled and the lawyers for both sides have finished "lining their pockets", it's the fans who will bear the freight in the form of higher ticket prices and, ultimately pay TV.......